The grueling 162-game MLB regular season is finally in the books and now the playoffs are upon us. The National League was loaded this year, mainly the NL Central, which is sending three teams to the postseason. Great pitching is a key reason as to why each of the five teams that made the playoffs representing the National League. All five teams are in the top-five in team ERA.
Wild Card Game – Chicago Cubs (97-65) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) – Wednesday Night, 8 p.m., TBS
The NL Wild Card game should be one heck of a pitching duel as the Cubs will send potential-Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta, who is an ML-best 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts and the Pirates will send Gerrit Cole who is 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 202 punch outs. Arrieta is 3-1 in five starts this season against Pittsburgh with a 0.75 ERA and Cole is 2-1 in four starts against Chicago with a 2.13 ERA. Arrieta is 13-1 on the road with a 1.60 ERA while Cole is 9-3, with a 2.83 ERA at PNC Park. Pittsburgh is hosting the wild card game for the third-consecutive year, where they are 1-1. The Cubs are back in the postseason for the first time since 2008 and are looking to when their first World Series since 1908. This is the most wins for the Pirates since winning the NL East in 1991. The winner of this series will play the NL Central winner, the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.
NLDS Cubs/Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) – Best of 5 – Game 1 Friday
The Cardinals were the best team in all of baseball this season with a 100-62 record. The division almost slipped away from them down the stretch, but managed to win the division yet again. St. Louis is 55-26 at home this season, which they will have home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Cubs and Pirates get the luxury of meeting the Cardinals in what will be a great serried, no matter who comes out victorious on Wednesday night. The Cardinals won the season series against both team, going 11-8 versus the Cubs and 10-9 against the Pirates. The Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates finished 1-2-3 respectively in team ERA this season.
NLDS New York Mets (90-72) vs Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) – Best of Five – Game 1 Thursday
This matchup will be all about pitching. The Mets and Dodgers have two of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. The Mets boast the fourth-best team ERA at 3.43 and the Dodgers are right behind them at 3.44. The Mets are led by Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71 ERA), Jacob DeGrom (14-8, 2.54 ERA) and Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24 ERA). The Dodgers have arguably the best 1-2 punch in the MLB with Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA, 301 K) and a potential Cy Young award winner, Zack Greinke (19-3, 1.66 ERA). This matchup will come down to the very rare mistakes these pitching staffs make. New York won the regular season series 4-3, including going 2-1 in Los Angeles. This is the first playoff appearance from Mets since they won the NL East in 2006. The Dodgers have won three straight NL West titles and are looking to win their first World Series since 1988.